Clockwork Princess (Page 40)

Clockwork Princess(40)
Author: Cassandra Clare

Until Bridget’s voice broke in on her happiness, drifting lugubriously from the kitchen.

"On a Tuesday they were wed

And by Friday they were dead

And they buried them in the churchyard side by side,

Oh, my love,

And they buried them in the churchyard side by side."

Breaking away from Gideon with some reluctance, Sophie rose to her feet and dusted off her dress. "Please forgive me, my dear Mr. Lightwood-I mean Gideon-but I must go and murder the cook. I shall be directly back."

"Ohhh," Cecily breathed. "That was so romantic!"

Gabriel took his hand away from the door and smiled down at her. His face quite changed when he smiled: all the sharp lines were softened, and his eyes went from the color of ice to the green of leaves in spring sunshine. "Are you crying, Miss Herondale?"

She blinked damp eyelashes, suddenly aware that her hand was still in his-she could still feel the soft pulse beat in his wrist against hers. He leaned toward her, and she caught the early-morning scent of him: tea and shaving soap-

She pulled away hastily, freeing her hand. "Thank you for allowing me to listen," she said. "I must-I need to go to the library. There is something I must do before tomorrow."

His face crinkled in confusion. "Cecily-"

But she was already hurrying away down the corridor, without looking back.

To: Edmund and Linette Herondale

Ravenscar Manor

West Riding, Yorkshire

Dear Mam and Dad,

I have started this letter to you so many times and never sent it. At first it was guilt. I knew I had been a willful, disobedient girl in leaving you, and I could not face the evidence of my wrongdoing in stark black letters on a page.

After that it was homesickness. I missed you both so much. I missed the rich green hills sweeping up from the manor, and the heather all purple in the summer, and Mam singing in the garden. It was cold here, all black and brown and gray, pea-soup fogs and choking air. I thought I might die of loneliness, but how could I tell you that? After all, it was what I had chosen.

And then it was sorrow. I had planned to come here and bring Will back with me, to make him see where his duty lay, and bring him home. But Will has his own ideas about duty, and honor, and the promises he has made. And I came to see that I could not bring someone home when they were already there. And I did not know how to tell you that.

And then it was happiness. That may seem so very strange to you, as it did to me, that I would not be able to return home because I had found contentment. As I trained to become a Shadowhunter, I felt the stirring in my blood, the same stirring Mam always spoke of feeling every time we came from Welshpool into sight of the Dyfi Valley. With a seraph blade in my hand, I am more than just Cecily Herondale, youngest of three, daughter of good parents, someday to make an advantageous marriage and give the world children. I am Cecily Herondale, Shadowhunter, and mine is a high and glorious position.

Glory. Such an odd word, something women are not supposed to want, but is not our queen triumphant? Was not Queen Bess called Gloriana?

But how could I tell you I had chosen glory over peace? The hard-bought peace you left the Clave to provide for me? How could I say I was happy as a Shadowhunter without it causing you the gravest unhappiness? This is the life you turned away from, the life from whose dangers you sought to shelter Will and me and Ella. What could I tell you that would not break your hearts?

Now-now it is understanding. I have come to realize what it means to love someone more than you love yourself. I realize now that all you ever wanted was, not for me to be like you but to be happy. And you gave me-you gave us-a choice. I see those who have grown up in the Clave, and who never had a choice about what they wished to be, and I am grateful for what you did. To have chosen this life is a very different thing from having been born into it. The life of Jessamine Lovelace has taught me that.

And as for Will, and bringing him home: I know, Mam, you feared that the Shadowhunters would take all the love out of your gentle boy. But he is loved and loving. He has not changed. And he loves you, as do I. Remember me, for I will always remember you.

Your loving daughter,

Cecily

To: Members of the Clave of the Nephilim

From: Charlotte Branwell

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Arms,

It is my sad duty to relate to you all that despite the fact that I have presented Consul Wayland with incontrovertible proof provided by one of my Shadowhunters that Mortmain, the gravest threat the Nephilim has faced in our times, is resident at Cadair Idris in Wales-our esteemed Consul has mysteriously decided to ignore this information. I myself regard knowledge of the location of our enemy and the opportunity to defeat his plans for our destruction as of the deepest importance.

By means provided to me by my husband, the renowned inventor Henry Branwell, the Shadowhunters at my disposal in the London Institute will be proceeding with utmost dispatch to Cadair Idris, there to lay down our lives in an attempt to stop Mortmain. I am most grieved to leave the Institute undefended, but if Consul Wayland can be roused to any action at all, he is most welcome to send guards to defend a deserted building. There are but nine of our number, three of them not even Shadowhunters but brave mundanes trained by us at the Institute who have volunteered to fight beside us. I cannot say that our hopes at this time are high, but I believe the attempt must be made.

Obviously I cannot compel any of you. As Consul Wayland has reminded me, I am not in a position to command the forces of the Shadowhunters, but I would be most obliged if any of you who agree with me that Mortmain must be fought and fought now will come to the London Institute tomorrow at midday and render us your assistance.

Yours truly,

Charlotte Branwell, head of the London Institute

Chapter 18 For This Alone

For this alone on Death I wreak

The wrath that garners in my heart:

He put our lives so far apart

We cannot hear each other speak.

-Alfred, Lord Tennyson, "In Memoriam A.H.H."

Tessa stood at the edge of a precipice in a country she did not know. The hills about her were green, dropping off sharply into cliffs that sheered down toward a blue sea. Seabirds wheeled and cawed above her. A gray path wound like a snake along the edge of the cliff top. Just ahead of her, on the path, stood Will.

He wore black gear, and over it a long black riding coat, spattered with mud at the hem as if he had been walking a long way. He was without hat or gloves, and his dark hair was tousled by the wind off the sea. The wind lifted Tessa’s hair as well, bringing the scent of salt and brine, of the wet things that grow at the edge of the sea, a smell that reminded her of her sea voyage on the Main.

"Will!" she called out. There was something so lonely about the figure he cut, like Tristan watching across the Irish Sea for the ship that would bear Isolde back to him. Will did not turn at the sound of her voice, only raised his arms, his coat lifting in the wind, sweeping out behind him like wings.

Fear rose up in her heart. Isolde had come for Tristan, but it had been too late. He had died of grief. "Will!" she called again.

He stepped forward, off the cliff. She raced to the edge and looked down, but there was nothing there, only plunging gray-blue water and white surf. The tide seemed to carry his voice to her with each surge of water. "Awake, Tessa. Awake."

"Awake, Miss Gray. Miss Gray!"

Tessa jerked upright. She had fallen asleep in the chair by the fireplace in her small prison; a coarse blue blanket was drawn over her, though she did not remember procuring it. The room burned with torchlight and the coals of the fire were low. It was impossible to tell if it was day or night.

Mortmain stood before her, and beside him was an automaton. It was one of the more humanoid that Tessa had seen. It was even clothed, as not many of them were, this one in a military tunic and trousers. The clothes made the head that rose above the stiff collar look even more uncanny, with its too-smooth features and bald metallic scalp. And its eyes-she knew they were glass and crystal, the irises red in the firelight, but the way they seemed to fix on her-

"You’re cold," Mortmain said.

Tessa exhaled, and her breath came out in a white puff. "The warmth of your hospitality leaves something to be desired."

He smiled, thin-lipped. "Very amusing." He himself was wearing a heavy astrakhan coat over a gray suit, ever the businessman. "Miss Gray, I do not wake you lightly. I came because I wish you to see what your kind assistance with my father’s memories has allowed me to accomplish." He gestured proudly at the automaton by his side.

"Another automaton?" Tessa said without interest.

"How rude of me." Mortmain’s eyes flicked to the creature. "Introduce yourself."

The creature’s mouth opened; Tessa caught a flash of brass. It spoke. "I am Armaros," it said. "For a billion years I rode the winds of the great abysses between the worlds. I fought Jonathan Shadowhunter on the plains of Brocelind. For a thousand more years I lay trapped within the Pyxis. Now my master has freed me and I serve him."

Tessa rose, the blanket sliding to her feet, unheeded. The automaton was watching her. Its eyes-its eyes were full of a dark intelligence, a consciousness that no automaton she had seen before had ever possessed.

"What is this?" she said in a whisper.

"An automaton body animated by a demon spirit. Downworlders already have their ways of capturing demon energies and using them. I used them myself to power the automatons you’ve seen before. But Armaros and his brothers are different. They are demons with the carapaces of automatons. They can think and reason. They are not easily outwitted. And they are very difficult to kill."

Armaros reached across its body-Tessa could not help but note that it moved fluidly, smoothly, without the jerkiness of the automatons she had seen before. It moved like a person. It drew the sword that hung at its side and handed it to Mortmain. The blade was covered in the runes that Tessa had become so familiar with over the last months, the runes that decorated the blades of all Shadowhunter weapons. The runes that made them Shadowhunter weapons. The runes that were deadly to demons. Armaros should barely have been able to look upon the blade, much less hold it.

Her stomach clenched. The demon gave the sword to Mortmain, who handled it with the precision of a longtime naval officer. He spun the blade, swept it forward, and drove it into the demon’s chest.

There was a sound of tearing metal. Tessa was used to seeing automatons crumple when attacked, or spurt black fluid, or stagger. But the demon stood its ground, unblinking and unmoving, like a lizard in the sun. Mortmain twisted the hilt savagely, then jerked the weapon free.

Its blade crumbled to ash, like a log burned away in a fire.

"You see," said Mortmain. "They are an army designed to destroy Shadowhunters."

Armaros was the only automaton Tessa had ever seen smile; she did not even know their faces had been built to accomplish such a purpose. The demon said, "They have destroyed many of my kind. It will be a pleasure to kill them all."

Tessa swallowed hard but tried not to let the Magister see it. His gaze was flicking back and forth from her to the demon automaton, and it was hard for her to say which he looked more delighted to lay eyes on. She wanted to scream, to throw herself at him and claw his face. But the invisible wall lay between them, shimmering slightly, and she knew she could not breach it.

Oh, you are to be more than his bride, Miss Gray, Mrs. Black had said. You are to be the ruin of the Nephilim. That is why you were created.

"The Shadowhunters will not be so easily destroyed," she said. "I have seen them cut apart your automatons. Perhaps these cannot be felled by their runed weapons, but any blade can shear metal and cut wires."

Mortmain shrugged. "Shadowhunters are not used to battling creatures against whom their runed weapons are useless. It will slow them. And there are countless of these automatons. It will be like trying to beat back the tide." He cocked his head to the side. "You see, now, the genius of what I have invented? But I must thank you, Miss Gray, for that last piece of the puzzle. I thought perhaps even you might be … admiring … of what we have created together."

Admiring? She looked in his eyes for mockery, but there was something of a sincere question there, curiosity mixed with the coldness. She thought of how long it must have been since he had had the praise of another human being, and took a deep breath.

"You are obviously a great inventor," she said.

Mortmain smiled, pleased.

Tessa was aware of the gaze of the mechanical demon on her, its tension and readiness, but she was more aware of Mortmain. Her heart was beating hard inside her chest. She seemed, as she had in her dream, poised on the edge of a precipice. To speak to Mortmain like this was chancy, and she would either fall or fly. But she must take the chance. "I see why you have brought me here," she said. "And it is not just because of your father’s secrets."

There was anger in his eyes, but also a certain confusion. She was not behaving as he had expected her to behave. "What do you mean?"

"You are lonely," she said. "You have surrounded yourself with creatures that are not real, that do not live. We see our own souls in the eyes of others. How long has it been since you have seen that you have a soul?"

Mortmain’s eyes narrowed. "I had a soul. It has been burned away by what I have dedicated my life to: the pursuit of justice and recompense."

"Do not seek revenge and call it justice."

The demon gave a low chuckle, though there was contempt in it, as if he were watching the antics of a kitten. "You would let her speak to you like that, Master?" he said. "I can cut out her tongue for you, silence her forever."

"It would serve nothing to mutilate her. She has powers you know not of," said Mortmain, his eyes still on Tessa. "There is an old saying in China-perhaps your beloved fiance familiarized you with it-that states, ‘A man may not live under the same Heaven with the slayer of his father.’ I shall erase the Shadowhunters from under Heaven; they will not longer live upon the earth. Do not seek to appeal to my better nature, Tessa, for I have none."